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You can trust a banker with your lunch money, but not if they’re at work

Another day, another study that makes bankers look relatively lousy. Yesterday, we reported on a study that found traders who work in homogenous environments, as most currently do, are more prone to follow the pack and trust the machine – attributes that could lead to financial bubbles bursting. Today’s findings suggest that bankers, when in their working frame of mind, aren’t very honest people.

The study is particularly interesting because it wasn’t actually designed to look at the trustworthiness of bankers specifically. It was a general study that included respondents from a variety of companies, and one just happened to be an unnamed bank.

Respondents were separated into two groups, according to a write-up by Bloomberg. One was asked questions about their personal lives, while the other took a survey about their work background. Afterwards, they were asked, in private, to flip a coin 10 times and self-report the results. They earned $20 for each correct guess.

Of the 133 people who worked in industries like manufacturing, telecommunications and information technology, respondents self-reported around a 50% success rate, suggesting they were honest about the results. Likewise, the 64 bankers who talked about their personal lives during the survey reported a 51.6% success rate.

But then there were the 64 bankers who were surveyed about their work. Afterwards, they claimed, as a group, to have guessed correctly nearly 60% of the time, a much higher number than probability would suggest with such a sample size. Eight of the 64 people in the banking group claimed to have guessed correctly all ten times, a statistical impossibility. Many lied, clearly.

Intrigued, the researchers ran two follow up studies. They surveyed another bank, splitting them into the same two groups, and found the exact same results. When in their work world, bankers lie.

Researchers then conducted the same study using college students, asking half about money rather than banking in an effort to see if it is culture of banking that is at fault, rather than just the $200. Like those not working on Wall Street, the students were honest.

The two studies suggest something that many in the industry claim to be true. The culture of banking can compromise what are otherwise scrupulous morals. Good people go to work on Wall Street and end up doing immoral and oftentimes illegal things. Maybe it’s that money is both the product and the end goal. Or maybe there’s a deeper-seeded cultural problem.

It’s possible that the finance industry puts “a greater emphasis on materialistic values and status-seeking,” researcher Michel Marechal told Bloomberg. Gee, you think?

Where Banks Will Hire in 2015 (eFinancialCareers)

Looking forward to 2015, banks will continue to hire up on middle and back office staffers while filling most front office roles with younger, cheaper talent.

The Best Business Schools in the World (eFinancialCareers)

Where in the world will you earn most as an MBA? And which schools are most respected by employers? Most are located right here in the U.S.

RIP (NY Post)

Citigroup’s managing director of environmental and social risk management was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on Tuesday. Shawn D. Miller was found with his throat slit in his bathtub. No knife was recovered, leading authorities to believe it was not a suicide.

Goldman Leading the M&A Charge (WSJ)

It’s an especially good year to be an M&A banker at Goldman Sachs. They have worked on $953 billion worth of deals this year. The next closest in Morgan Stanley, which has worked on deals worth over $700 billion.

Fraud Or Sales? (Bloomberg)

Prosecutors are looking into the activities of as many as 10 mortgage bond traders using the model of convicted fraudster Jesse Litvak, formerly of Jefferies. Litvak misrepresented how much buyers and sellers were asking for, keeping the difference for himself and the company. Litvak is claiming in an appeals court that the practice is just part of any sales job. It’s all about margins.

More Female Bankers Needed in Canada (Bloomberg)

Robbie Pryde, Toronto-Dominion Bank’s head of equities, is pushing for Canadian banks to hire and promote more women. Male bankers need to be proactively sponsoring women to encourage more diversity in the upper ranks.

Junior UBS Bankers Irked Over Pay (Dealbreaker)

UBS analysts and associates in New York are “plotting exits” from UBS due to the Swiss bank’s reluctance to increase base pay alongside competitors.

Buzz Around the Office

Not Exactly How You Draw It Up (NBC)

Here’s how not to get a job. Show up to the interview drunk, get in a physical confrontation with your potential boss, stab him in the arm and then run away. Oh, and leave your resume behind so police can easily find you.

Quote of the Day: “The only time government is worthwhile is in crises. And the time that I'm critical of government, like the financial crisis, is when they can't function because the only reason they're there is for crises.” – Peter Solomon to Business Insider

AUTHORBeecher Tuttle US Editor

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